Little Adventures And Big Teeth

Life is an adventure — one grand experience filled with a multitude of smaller ones. And it’s the quality of the smaller ones that make the big one worthwhile.

I get to travel a fair amount. Working with my best friend, Justin Skeesuck, as a keynote speaking duo, we find ourselves all over the country — sometimes the world. More often than not, our clients fly us in for a few days, which means we are on the road for 3 or 4 days at a time. But sometimes we have events that are close enough together that flying home just to hop back on a plane doesn’t make sense. It’s on these kinds of trips that we find a way to tap into our inner child. We’re always looking for the next adventure. But our experiences always have a unique dynamic because Justin lives life from a power wheelchair (Justin can’t use his arms or legs due to a progressive neuromuscular disease).

Over the past few weeks, we traveled from Boise to Kansas, and then to several cities in Florida. Our days were filled with a number of events, so we bounced from event to event with some downtime in between. And with downtime comes the opportunity to do things we wouldn’t normally do, in places we wouldn’t regularly visit. In Hutchinson, KS we spent time with their Chamber of Commerce team, spoke at their annual meeting, and took advantage of the opportunity to explore a salt mine 650 feet below the earth’s surface. From there we headed St. Petersburg, FL where we spoke with representatives from universities far and wide at CCCU’s multi-academic conference. Our free time there was filled with hours on the beach, good dinners with the wives, and some incredible fish tacos.

After saying goodbye to the amazing women who chose to marry us (still trying to work that one out), we headed to Orlando, FL. We were going to be speaking at ThermoFisher Scientific’s North American Sales Conference. But we had some free time and needed something exciting.

Justin and I are no strangers to doing stupid things together — we have so many stories involving trips, crazy foods, and idiotic escapades. One of the reasons we have maintained our friendships over the course of 43 years is the fact that we are always ready to jump in and embrace the other’s ideas and sense of adventure, no matter how big or small the adventure might be.

Justin had read about an accessible zip-line in Orlando where the line took riders over a pond filled with Alligators. When he asked me what I thought, I was all in. The day before we were supposed to speak, we headed to Gatorland. We bought our tickets, worked our way to the zip-line office (past some huge alligators), and filled out the appropriate releases.

While the team harnessed up Justin, I was instructed on how to get into mine. Ten minutes later, Justin and I were at the top of the long series of ramps that led to the drop off point. In the water below there were gators as long as 14 feet. Several hundred of them swam in the murky waters below.

While the crew secured Justin to the zip-line, I filmed. Minutes later they let him go. He laughed the whole way across the pond. Five minutes later, I was doing the same thing.

Though it was short, we had a great time, and we have one more story to tell. A small adventure that helps make up the bigger adventure that is our friendship.

Since making our way across that pond, I have been thinking about what each of us can do to enrich our relationships with our children, with our spouse, with our friends. While there is no shortage of improvements we all can make, one guaranteed way to grow deeper is to live life together — and we don’t have to fly across the country to do so. Every day offers opportunities for more adventures to be taken and more stories to be written. Whether it's through backyard games of hide-and-seek, puddle jumping till you’re soaking wet, forts built out of cardboard boxes and duct-tape, bike rides to get ice cream, a walk holding hands, coffee in the middle of a workday, or happy hour conversations — every day we can find ways to live out a little adventure making the big one so much more significant.

Take some time today to go on a little adventure with your kids, your spouse, or a friend. Because it’s the little ones that make the big one possible.